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Chic Scott - Powder Pioneers

Chapter 1: The Birth of Skiing in Western Canada: Rossland, 1896

p. 19: Skiing in Western Canada is thought to have started in mining communities in the 1880s. Written accounts appeared a bit later. In Revelstoke's Kootenay Star on November 28, 1891, the following notice appeared:

"Yesterday a young man mounted on a pair of Norwegian snowshoes essayed the task of skimming over the snow-covered surface of Main Street but owing to its being considerably cut up by traffic he did not make much headway. These snowshoes are simply thin slats of wood, about three inches in width and 10 feet in length, turned up in front like the bow of a canoe. The feet are fastened to these slats by leather straps in the centre, leaving about five feet clear fore and aft which is not lifted clear of the snow but glides along the surface. A pole about six feet in length is carried either for steering purposes or as a help in propulsion."
After his arrival in 1896, Olaus Jeldness was the pioneer of organized competitive skiing in Western Canada. He won both the jumping and ski-running (downhill) events at the first Rossland Winter Carnival in February 1898. Red Mountain was the preferred location for the downhill race. Rossland held its 20th and final winter carnival in 1917 (p. 27), by which time the center of activity had shifted to Revelstoke.

p. 22: Profile of Olaus Jeldness.

Chapter 2: The Energy Shifts to Revelstoke

p. 23: The Revelstoke Ski Club was formed in December 1914. The club organized its first ski jumping tournament in February 1915. In 1925, Nels Nelson broke the world amateur and professional ski jumping record at Revelstoke with a leap of 240 feet. Bob Lymburne returned the world record to Revelstoke in 1932, with a jump of 269 feet, and again in 1933, with a jump of 287 feet. Interest in ski jumping declined in the 1950s and 1960s as downhill skiing grew. In 1972, the Big Hill at Revelstoke closed for good.

p. 31: Profiles of Torgal Noren, Engwald "Minnie" Engen, Nels Nelson, Isabel Patricia Coursier, Bob Lymburne, and the Gunnarsen family.

Chapter 3: Banff Becomes a Winter Resort

p. 36: Skis are believed to have arrived in the Rockies in the late 1880s, about the same time as in the interior of British Columbia. Conrad Kain arrived in Banff in 1910, bringing with him a pair of Norwegian-style skis. He started a ski club but interest in skiing waned after he left the Banff area. Later enthusiasts organized the first Banff Winter Carnival, which included a ski jumping contest, in February 1917. The carnival grew over the years to become one of the great winter sporting attractions in Western Canada. The Banff Ski Club, also started in 1917, was a kid's club to begin with. The Mount Norquay Ski Camp (a skier's cabin) opened in February 1929. The cabin changed the focus of Banff skiing from cross-country and jumping to downhill skiing. Races were held on Mt Norquay in the 1930s. The Calgary Ski Club was incorporated in 1935.

p. 43: Profiles of August "Gus" Johnson and the Paris family.

Chapter 4: The Glory Days of the Backcountry Lodges: Assiniboine, Skoki and Sunshine

p. 45: Erling Strom and the Marquis Albizzi introduced backcountry skiing to the Canadian Rockies in March 1928 when they skied from Banff to the Mt Assiniboine meadows with four clients. The following summer, at the request of Albizzi, the Candian Pacific Railway built a lodge at Mt Assiniboine. Strom and Albizzi led a group to the new lodge in March 1929. In 1930, Cliff Chite and Cyril Paris of the Mt Norquay Ski Club built a cabin at Skoki in Banff National Park. The Sunshine Lodge above the Bow Valley was established in the early 1930s. After a road was built to Sunshine, the location eventually became one of the biggest ski resorts in the Rockies. In 1938, Sir Norman Watson, a wealthy British nobleman, built the Temple Lodge.

p. 53: Profiles of Cliff White Sr., Samuel Marshall Evans, Ken Jones, Lizzie Rummel, Peter and Chatharine Whyte, Erling Strom, and Sir Norman Watson.

Chapter 5: The Ski Adventures of Joe Weiss

p. 60: Joe Weiss was a Swiss-born skier who lived in Jasper, at the northern end of the Canadian Rockies. Between 1929-33, he started a tradition of long wilderness ski traverses that persists to this day. His trips included:

p. 66: Profile of Joe Weiss.

Chapter 6: Shangri La: A World Apart

p. 68: In 1936, the Maligne Lake Ski Club built the Shangri La cabin in the Snow Bowl of Jasper National Park. Another cabin was built in the Watchtower Valley in 1939.

p. 70: Profile of the Jeffery brothers.

Chapter 7: The Birth of Ski Mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies

p. 72: In February 1930, P.L. Parsons made a solo ski-climb of Mt Resplendent, the first major ski mountaineering ascent in the Canadian Rockies. The author describes pioneering ascents during the 1930s in areas such as Tonquin Valley, Skoki Lodge, Yoho Valley, the Wapta Icefields, Mt Edith Cavell, Simon Peak, the Columbia Icefields, and Mt Fay. The Icefields Parkway (Banff/Jasper Highway) was completed in 1937.

p. 80: Profiles of Rex Gibson and Vigo Victor "Vic" Kutschera.

Chapter 8: Early Alpine Club of Canada Ski Camps

p. 82: The author describes ACC ski camps held in 1937 at Lake O'Hara and 1937 in the Tonquin Valley. In 1939, the Stanley Mitchell Hut was built in the Little Yoho Valley. ACC ski camps were held there annually from 1940-46. Later camps were held at the Columbia Icefield (1947), Rogers Pass (in the recently constructed A.O. Wheeler Hut, 1948), Tonquin Valley (1949), Berg Lake (1950), Little Yoho (1951), and Mt Assiniboine (1952). The author lists the locations of camps held through the mid-1960s.

p. 89: Profiles of Alexander Addison "Mac" McCoubrey and the Stanley Mitchell Hut.

Chapter 9: Soldiers on Skis: The Lovat Scouts

p. 91: The Lovat Scouts were formed in 1900 with volunteers drawn from the Scottish Highlands. During World War II, they trained in winter warfare in Canada under the command of Frank Smythe, Rex Gibson, and E.A.M. Wedderburn, with several U.S. instructors. The author describes their training and ascents on the Columbia Icefield in 1943-44.

Chapter 10: Avalanche! Skiing is a Dangerous Business

p. 96: The author describes avalanche accidents in the Canadian Rockies from 1933-45.

Chapter 11: The Machine Takes Over: The Early Days of the Ski Resorts

p. 102: The author discusses the founding of the following ski resorts: Mt Norquay (late 1930s, early 1940s), Sunshine Village (early 1940s), Lake Louise (late 1940s), Whistlers (Jasper, late 1930s, early 1940s), Marmot Basin (1950s-60s), Rossland (late 1940s), Kimberley (1940s), and Nelson (1950s-60s).

p. 118: Profile of Clifford J. White Jr.

Chapter 12: Hans Gmoser and the Little Yoho

p. 119: Hans Gmoser and his friend Leo Grillmair arrived in Canada from Austria in 1951. In the late 1950s, Gmoser started his own guiding company, which organized many ski tours in the Little Yoho Valley. Between 1957 and 1967, Gmoser made 10 feature films that showcased backcountry skiing in the mountains of Canada. He presented the films to audiences throughout North America.

Chapter 13: Some Wild and Wonderful Rocky Mountain Races

p. 125: The author describes ski races held in undeveloped areas, including Skoki (1933-38), Mt Athabaska (1947-48), Waterton Lakes (1950s), Victoria Glacier (1950s-60s), and the Sunwapta giant slalom (1961-68).

p. 132: Profile of Bruno Engler.

Chapter 14: The Grand Traverses

p. 134: The author describes high alpine ski traverses including:

In 1991, Don Gardner skied from Calgary to Squamish, B.C. solo, without a tent or stove, covering 900 km in 28 days. In 2005, Troy Jungen, John Walsh, and Doug Sproul skied the Rogers Pass-to-Bugaboos traverse in an 80-hour push.

p. 150: Profiles of Chic Scott, Steve Smith, and Bob Saunders.

Chapter 15: The Evolution of Heli-skiing

p. 153: In 1963, Art Patterson, a geologist and avid skier, approached Hans Gmoser with the idea of using helicopters for skiing. Following a few experimental trips, Gmoser organized a heli-skiing trip to the Bugaboos in 1965 at the request of U.S. Olympic skier Brooks Dodge. Gmoser's annual ski films gave heli-skiing visibility and his company, Canadian Mountain Holidays, grew and expanded to locations outside the Bugaboos. Other heli-skiing companies were established by Mike Wiegele, Rudi Gertsch, and Peter Schlunegger.

p. 160: Profiles of Hans Gmoser, Leo Grillmair, and Mike Wiegele.

Chapter 16: Rogers Pass: North America's Premier Backcountry Powder Destination

p. 163: In 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed over Rogers Pass. Shortly thereafter, a deluxe hotel, Glacier House, was constructed near the pass. Swiss guides brought to the hotel by the railroad gave birth to the sport of mountain climbing in Canada. It is likely that some of the first alpine skiing in the country also took place here. Edward Feuz Jr. started the first Glacier Ski Club in 1903-04. In 1916, the CPR completed the Connaught Tunnel under Rogers Pass and abandoned the tracks over the pass. In 1925, Glacier House closed its doors for good. The author describes backcountry ski pioneering around Rogers Pass in the late 1930s and 1940s. Wheeler Hut was build in 1946 and Hans Gmoser took many ski touring groups there in the 1950s. In 1962 the Trans-Canada Highway was completed over Rogers Pass, setting the stage for the modern era. The popularity of Rogers Pass took off in the 1990s, in conjunction with the overall boom in backcountry skiing.

Chapter 17: Cross-Country Skiing Comes to the Mountains

p. 167: The author discusses the growth of cross-country skiing and the establishment of trail networks. He credits Don Gardner with the idea of applying lightweight cross-country ski gear on high mountain tours.

p. 171: Profiles of Tony and Gillean Daffern and Don Gardner.

Chapter 18: The Modern Ski Resorts

p. 174: The author describes major developments since the 1970s at the following ski resorts: Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Mt Norquay, Nakiska, Marmot Basin, Red Mountain, Whitewater, Panorama, and Kicking Horse.

p. 183: Profile of Charlie Locke.

Chapter 19: The Backcountry Boom

p. 184: Between the 1930s and 1960s, just a handful of backcountry cabins were built and maintained. They included Skoki and Assiniboine Lodges, Shangri La near Jasper, and the ACC huts: Stanley Mitchell, Wates/Gibson, and Wheeler. By comparison, today there about 65 huts, cabins and lodges catering to backcountry skiers. Since the 1960s, the ACC has constructed a series of huts in the Wapta Icefields (and a few elsewhere) and about 25 commercial lodges have been established. The author discusses the influence of guidebooks and organized and/or guided trips on backcountry skiing.

p. 195: Profiles of Peter Fuhrmann, Philippe Delesalle, Art Patterson, and Alf Skrastins.

Chapter 20: The Professionals

p. 197: In 1953, the Canadian government contracted Noel Gardner to study avalanche activity along the planned Trans-Canada Highway through Rogers Pass. With Peter Schaerer, he collected information during the 1950s that enabled the highway to be opened in September 1962. This effort advanced Canadian snow science from almost nothing to a high level of sophistication. The author discusses the work of Noel Gardner, Walter Perren and others to train National Park wardens in mountain safety skills. In 1956, Walter Perren administered the first guides exams to Hans Gmoser and Bruno Engler. As more guides became certified, Perren advocated the creation of a guides association. The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) was created in 1963 by Gmoser and other graduates of Perren's exams. The advent of heli-skiing in the 1960s brought more emphasis on skiing and avalanche safety skills for guides.

p. 205: Profiles of Noel Gardner and Peter Schaerer.

Chapter 21: Extreme Skiing

p. 208: In March 1976, Rene Boisselle made the first extreme skiing descent in the Rockies on the south face of Cascade Mountain. Doug Ward began making steep ski descents in 1978 with the 3-3-1/2 Couloir above Moraine Lake. Ward spent the winters of 1979 and 1980 in Chamonix, France, where he was inspired by Sylvain Saudan and Patrick Vallencant. The author describes unsuccessful attempts in the 1980s by Doug Ward, Peter Chrzanowski, and others to ski the north face Mt Robson. Ward eventually gave up the Robson project and succeeded on many classic routes during the 1980s and 1990s. The north face of Robson was finally skied in September 1995 by Ptor Spricenieks and Troy Jungen.

p. 215: Profile of Doug Ward.

Chapter 22: Snowboarding

p. 216: The author describes the development of snowboarding and its effect on skiing in Canada.

p. 218: Profiles of Neil Daffern and Ken Achenbach.

Chapter 23: The XV Olympic Winter Games

p. 220: The story of the 1988 Winter Olympics at Calgary.

Chapter 24: The Champions

p. 222: Profiles of Canadian skiers (from the area covered in this book) who have won either a World Cup race or an Olympic medal: Nancy Greene, Ken Read, Gerry Sorensen, Karen Percy, Kerrin Lee-Gartner, Cary Mullen, Beckie Scott, Thomas Grandi, and Sara Renner.

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Last Updated: Thu Jan 18 14:48:23 PST 2007